Fee-free heavy truck driver training and licensing courses are being offered to New South Wales agricultural workers.
For those who work in plant-growing agricultural industry sectors including grains, fibre, rice, viticulture, horticulture and agrifutures industries, AgSkilled is offering the opportunity for additional training as part of a NSW Government funded program.
The $15 million program was launched to upskill NSW’s plant-growing agricultural workforce to ensure the industry is well equipped to meet future challenges.
AgSkilled is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and other industry partners such as Cotton Australia, Horticulture Innovation, NSW Wine Association and Agrifutures.
AgSkilled co-ordinator Claudia Vicary said the program has been an imperative part of strengthening the workforce across the NSW’s plant growing agricultural industries since its inception and has generated opportunities to upskill workers and those seeking to build careers in the industry.
The truck driving and licensing course has been particularly popular for people on farm, who are busily preparing for the winter grains harvest and ensuring their staff have the capabilities and expertise to safely operate heavy trucks during this time.
“Having staff on hand that can properly operate a heavy truck is integral to most farming enterprises, especially considering farmers have felt the pinch of workforce shortages over the last few years,” said Vicary.
“AgSkilled aims to deliver training that makes things easier on farm and we want to help growers make their businesses more dynamic and efficient through investing in their people,” she said.
GRDC Senior Regional Manager – North, Gillian Meppem said productivity was high across NSW and seasonal conditions have growers excited for the winter harvest and summer cropping prospects.
“In seasons where high productivity is expected it follows that there will be increased pressure on harvest logistics, it’s important to ensure that the on farm workforce can confidently and safely operate a truck during key busy periods such as harvest and sowing,” she said.
“I strongly encourage all growers to look at their businesses and staffing and assess how they could take advantage of this great opportunity to upskill their workforce and increase their productivity.”
The truck driver training and licencing courses are being run by Required Australian Industry Skills Education (RAISE) Training and Ironbark Training and will include competency-based assessment and licencing skillsets for heavy rigid (HR), heavy combination (HC) and multi-combination (MC) licenses.
The course ensures participants have the skills and knowledge required to drive a heavy vehicle safely, including maintaining systematic and efficient control of all vehicle functions; coupling and uncoupling trailers; monitoring traffic and road conditions; managing vehicle condition; and performance and dealing with hazardous conditions.
Vicary said these courses will be scheduled with participants based on demand.
“Courses will include online theoretical training and be completed with one-to-one delivery of the practical components, there would be a limit of two participants from each company per financial year with eligibility restricted to those working on-farm,” she said.